Linguistic and Cultural Appropriations of an Immigrant Multilingual Literacy Teacher Educator

Mar. 01, 2016

Source: Studying Teacher Education, VOL. 12, NO . 1, 88–112, 2016.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

In this study, the first author deploys autoethnographic self-study to intentionally and systematically examine her practice. Specifically, she was interested in investigating how her background as a Black immigrant educator as well as a multilingual communicator affected her practice with predominantly White monolingual prospective teachers.

The research was conducted at a large public university in Florida over the course of the 2011–2012 academic year. The participants were 52 undergraduate students/ prospective teachers were enrolled to the course. The majority of the students in both classes were Caucasian and monolingual with the exception of three African–American students and two Hispanic students.

The first author collected data in three phases. In phase one, she documented her thoughts on her practice in relation to the research questions posed in her researcher reflective journal. Phase two, which began in the third week of the semester, included artifacts for analysis. The author recorded videos of her teaching and also written responses of both the author's responses to students by email and students’ weekly class exit slips.
In phase three, which occurred at the end of the semester, she interrogated her practice by utilizing video-stimulated recalls/reflections to mine the video recordings she had gathered.


Findings revealed that the author's practice reflected three elements of multicultural awareness as displayed by her attention to individual predispositions, cultural practices and personal stereotypes. For example, she was aware of individual predispositions to content taught and of students’ cultural differences, thereby confirming the assertions in the literature. Since the first author is a Caribbean multilingual teacher educator who has navigated various cultural and linguistically varied societies, the findings also appeared to indicate that multicultural and multilingual awareness (MLA) interacted to reflect facilitation and symbiosis.
The findings seemed to demonstrate a shift in the author's perspective in the US context that favored attention to student-centered approaches. Moreover, her transition from an environment that was racially homogenous to a heterogeneous context seemed to have highlighted the need for attention to culture in ways that I did not remember emphasizing as a teacher in Caribbean schools.
As the study progressed, the author noticed that she continued to hold perceptions of monolingual, racial and ethnically homogenous populations in her classrooms of which she was previously unaware that did not necessarily acknowledge the heterogeneity within their cultures of origin.

Moreover, cultural references and examinations in the literature have been focused primarily on traditionally identified categorical variables used to represent culture. From her responses to a majority White Caucasian student body, it appeared that her reactions seemed to mirror these notions such that the students’ race was unrepresentative of diversity. From the perspective of a Black teacher educator, cultural diversity as conceived of based on traditionally identified variables seemed non-existent.


The author concludes that the findings of this study seem to reveal that the multilingual educator utilized her metalinguistic proficiency in a classroom beyond the K-12 context, and with students possessing homogenous linguistic backgrounds. From this study, prospective teachers are better able to understand the ways in which language, culture, and diversity intersect in the backgrounds of foreign-trained literacy instructors. Similarly, educators, policy makers, teachers, and educators can use the findings from this work to understand how foreign educators’ language and cultural backgrounds might potentially impact prospective teachers/students.

Updated: May. 22, 2017


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